DEATH IN THE DESERT
After 9/11, Meagan Wagner thought she could find security by returning to the tranquility of Arizona. She was wrong. Instead, she witnesses
tragic human suffering and discovers the horrors of smuggling and dying
immigrants in the parched desert. When innocent people are killed, she knows
something has to be done. But will she risk her career and her integrity to expose the truth?
Death in the Desert is now featured on the web site, That Part Where. There's a longer synopsis and a free chapter available there.
You'll also find other great books on that site.
You'll also find other great books on that site.
There were nine of them - three other women, four men, and one child. They did not exchange names. Instead, the coyote whispered harshly for them to hurry. Furtively, Alejandra stood. Heavy muttering and frantic orders
sifted through the dust. Other groups scampered through the desert terrain as well.
"Come," their guide hissed and scurried into the dark without a backward glance. They silently followed, putting distance between themselves and the border.
Suddenly, thin rays of flashlights flickered and bobbed in the darkness all around them. Alejandra realized their group wasn't the only one crossing the border. This kind of foolish behavior would expose them to the Border Patrol's relentless surveillance. They had been warned. Hunted and
tracked like animals, their only chance of evading capture was to follow the coyote's directions.
Unexpectedly, an intense blinding light shot through the
blackness from above. Grotesque shadows danced and pranced through the darkness as sand whipped by a hovering helicopter stung Alejandra's skin. She could not
help but breathe in the swirling dust and debris. She coughed as she tried to draw a breath and stumbled as the dirt lashed out and blinded her. The helicopter's thundering vibrations roared in her ears and shook the earth. Her
heart thudded in her chest as if it would jump out her
"Faster," the coyote growled, gesturing for them to follow.
They stumbled into a small clump of mesquite trees and crawled behind a tall stand of buffalo grass. The coyote used broken branches to sweep away their footprints.
Peering nervously through the trees, Alejandra watched as
four-wheel drive vehicles crashed through the night, bucking over ruts and crevices like wild horses frantically trying to throw their riders. Spotlights caught other groups in their glare. Voices shouted from the darkness. Alejandra
held her breath, as if that might prevent their group from being discovered.
She shifted her weight and a sinewy hand grabbed her arm. "Do not move." Alejandra froze at the strength and hidden threat in the coyote's guttural voice. She was beyond fear.
As Border Patrol agents swarmed like a hive of angry bees, the man silently motioned for the group to follow him. Their guide had warned them about the various methods the Border Patrol used, assuring them if they followed his
directions without question, he would lead them safely to their destination.
They zigzagged in no particular pattern but Alejandra didn't care. The lights, vehicles, and angry voices began to
"Now we must run," the coyote
People have asked why I wrote “Death in the Desert,” and the simple answer was there were so many Mexican immigrants dying
in the desert that I could no longer ignore their heartbreaking stories. Thus began a long and painful journey as I read and researched the growing number of deaths in the desert. My novel does not promote illegal immigration into this country. Rather, I try to show readers the reasons why Mexicans are willing to risk their lives on such a journey. Unfortunately, some crossing the border
in recent years smuggle drugs and others are infiltrating this country for other reasons. My book focuses on people who come here
to find jobs, work hard, and make better lives for their families. Many debate the reasons. I hope to shed light from a Christian humantarian perspective.
---Reviewed by LightHouse Literary Reviews
Rating: 4 ½ (out
Meagan Wagner, an award-winning journalist, has settled back in the safety of Cochise County, Arizona. She has fled back to her roots in order for her to start healing from the devastation and fear that crept into her life after September 11, 2001. Living in Washington D.C. at that time, Meagan should have been covering the hysteria and chaos that surrounded the hours and days following the attacks on New York and Washington. Instead, she was glued to the television like the rest of the country. She was experiencing failure when she should have been taking pictures and writing about the experience.
Back in Arizona, she has settled into her life out on the ranch with her Uncle Billy, the closest thing to a father that she has in her life. Billy, a recovering alcoholic, has managed to turn his life around after years of drifting and drinking. Now Billy has won the lottery and lives comfortably on the ranch. One thing he had the good sense to spend his money on. The other constant in his life is his niece, Meagan, who has always shown him unconditional love even when most of her love life was dry like the desert that she lived in.
The quiet Arizona area that she lived in was quickly becoming the gateway for illegal immigrants from Mexico entering the United States. The area was becoming a little dangerous as the drug runners and coyotes (or paid guides) that brought the Mexicans became greedy and wanted more and more money to do these deeds.
As more and more illegal Mexicans turn up dead in the desert from dehydration, the area becomes a tinderbox waiting for a spark. That spark comes and the fire of hatred and bigotry runs rampant throughout the county. Meagan is unintentionally fanning the flames with her stories. With the help of Uncle Billy and her friends, Meagan finally sees that the fear she has is running her life.
Wow, this book is really a lesson in fear and how it can run your life without you knowing it.
Francine Biere tells a very touching story, it brought tears to my eyes a couple of times. I think that this
is a must read book.
“Death in the Desert is a novel with its heart in the right place. Well done, Francine Biere. I thought "Death in the Desert" was grand, as they say over here (in Ireland). Best of luck with it!!! I hope that "Death in the Desert" raises awareness and lends support toward those good causes which try to assist poor migrants.”
---Featured Review by
Mick Halpin, Critical Mick Reviews Free of Rules, Dublin, Ireland
“Death in the Desert”is a literary experience that takes the reader to a place they may never otherwise go. Invaluable in this, true-to-life characters flesh out a dark but needful exposé of human suffering intensified, if not begun, by people who manipulate the tenets of their own freedom in order to maltreat others.”
---Reviewed by Cami
Tapley, Lindenville Publishing, Gibraltar Fiction Series,
The characters in the book seem real and not just some flat people on a page. It is obvious from the book how much Francine loves Cochise County. She did a good job painting the plight of the Mexicans in the little town
across the border. Every scene was believable and realistic. I found myself crying and the ending was perfect. She showed real people with real problems, like Uncle Billy.
She’s done a superb job.”
---Debbie Chan, Canada (Author)